A Blue Plaque for Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 – 1996)
Today, is International Women’s Day (March 8th), a day for recognising the role of women in our culture and society. Within the scientific community the struggle for equality still continues, although it has drastically improved since the time of Mary Anning, Marie Stopes et al. However, only last year, a Nobel Laureate, Sir Tim Hunt caused a substantial row when speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul (South Korea) stating that girls in the laboratory, in his opinion caused trouble.
We at Everything Dinosaur, don’t wish to enter into that particular debate, whether or not biochemists should insist on gender-segregation in the laboratory, but instead, we choose today to nominate one distinguished London born scientist for a blue plaque. Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 to 1996), made an enormous contribution to our understanding of human evolution. Along with her husband Louis, Mary proved that the cradle of mankind was Africa and she made some very notable scientific discoveries including a beautifully preserved specimen of a Proconsul Miocene Ape during an expedition to Lake Victoria in 1948. Her most famous fossil discovery, is perhaps the Laetoli hominin footprints that are believed to be around 3.6 million years old. In addition, without her meticulous research a number of other hugely significant fossil finds would not have been made and she almost single-handedly documented and mapped out the sequence of stone tools found at the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania.
The Remarkable Mary Leakey’s Centenary was Celebrated in a Google Doodle in 2013
Picture credit: Google
The Leakey Foundation and other notable institutes continues the research began by Louis and Mary Leakey and with a recent press release from English Heritage stating that only 13% of all the blue plaques in London are dedicated to women, Everything Dinosaur has today contacted English Heritage to propose that Mary Leakey be honoured.
It is now twenty years since the death of Mary, before a person is considered for a blue plaque at least two decades must have elapsed before a proposal can be put forward.
On International Women’s Day it seems fitting to add our voice to those who have called for this remarkable woman to be honoured with the provision of a blue plaque.